tv [untitled] June 1, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT
>> in time of the iraq war in time for the run up to it mr. blair, you've listed the three calls with mr. murdoch. on the 11th, 13th and 19th of march. but you would now draw your attention to the fact that there were calls with other editors and meetings as well. >> this is a huge issue, obviously. i mean my recollection is that i initiated one of those calls. and i actually in fact only remember two. the records show there were three. i think they were no more than 45 minutes in total for all
three. i would have been wanting to explain what we were doing and this is -- i think i had similar calls with the observer and the telegraph and indeed had a launch later with the guardian. so -- it's not. i wouldn't say there's anything particularly unusual or odd about that when you're facing such a huge issue. none of these calls were particularly long. but they were important. >> that stage of course i think all the murdoch papers in the world with 165 now they'd all taken the same position before the 11th of march, 2003. there was no question of you as it were persuading them to take a position which they had not already attained for that i know own reasons. was the subject matter about tone of the coverage in the sun and the times or not?
>> no. no. it was really -- i mean it was really stupid. i would be explaining this is how i saw things. i think with him probably i would also been asking him what the situation was in the u.s. for example in australia which are major parts of the coalition. but, no, it wouldn't have been about the tone of the coverage. they were supportive of it and that was that. >> the suggestion which someone has made that the articles in the sun which were hostile to president chirac it's completely wrong to associate cause and effect. the subject of the cause has nothing to do with that. >> absolutely. by the way, since i was having to deal with president chirac and in the aftermath, he behaved very graciously given we had this fundamental disagreement. the last thing i wanted was suggestions that we were winding
up the media to go and denounce him. so both with him and with the german chancellor at the time i was very concerned to make sure i think we had a european council shortly after the iraq action began. we wanted a united states resolution, which we subsequently got which then validated the presence of foreign troops there. so for me it was very important we kept these people onside. >> after the third election, which was on may 2005, eventually not all, but the majority of interactions either with mr. murdoch or rebecca wade in the schedule. >> it certainly becomes at that point frankly they are the main
group that is still reasonably supportive. i noticed there are others that come in too, by the way. i think it's especially as i was coming up to the point of departure. because obviously i was trying also to get across the legacy of ten years in office and so on. by then frankly there was not a great deal they could do for me one way or another as it were. i think inevitably as time goes on, you tend to associate more with those that at least will give you a fair shot of it. >> will they remain a sympathetic ear or pair of ears in what was becoming increasingly hostile media landscape. is that right? >> it was very hostile during that time. and you know, i had won a third
election. i never intended to fight a fourth. but i was under pretty constant pressure all the way after 2005 to step down and there was a lot of political maneuvering around that, obviously. of that was an important in the relationship. i would say it's more important from the reason you gave there was a certain amount of support and willingness to put across that point of view by that time a cig can part in the media were a closed book to us. >> i look now some evidence if that's what it is of your interactions in particular with the news international papers and issues surrounding that from 1994. in chris mullens diaries page two of the bundle we prepared,
he notes the meeting had to be on the 17th of november, 1994. you see the bottom of page two, three lines from the bottom. we, that's you and mr. mullen talked about his dinner with murdoch who hadn't tried to sound him out on our plans. so far, so good? this is your recollection is of that meeting? >> this is in november is it 1994. the dinner was -- >> the dinner was the 15th of september 1994. >> it probably was that dinner. >> there's no evidence of any other dinner between the 15th of september, 17th of november, you might say, well -- anyway, you can see what this says.
tony says he had the impression that murdoch is in asia. if he thought we could lose, he would turn on us. he added if the press misbehaved badly, i will stop everything for two days and have a debate about what they're up to. then mr. mullen did you say that to murdoch, you answered not in so many words. is that an accurate gist of your conversation with mr. mullen? >> i think it is. this is going back 18 years or so. but certainly that was my attitude. >> i think now by the way i would have a slightly different view. in other words, i think, there was a view of rupert murdoch which i think speaks to the same
effect, which is he just backs the winner. my view now is it's not as simple as that. there are very strong political views. and those actually do come first with whatever interest he feels on the winning side or losing side. so my view of this now is if he's been persuaded. it looked as if we were going to win. you don't have to be a genius to think we have a good chance of winning. when you miss four in a row you never think it's that clear. so i'm not sure i would have the same view now about that. but that may well have been what i said to chris and to -- and yes, look, if i ended up in a situation where they turned on me, i would have had to fight
back. you know, there's no -- that would have been the only recourse. and we weren't in 1992, we weren't really in a position where we were able to fight back. but this time we would have. >> tremendously powerful position. here you are embarking upon the prospect of government and you're sufficiently concerned to say, look, if they really are going to turn loose, then or better off we'll have to do something about it. and i'm interested in your view and the power that means there does in fact reside in just a few people. >> well i -- i think basically there is a substantial power there. as i say, in my view not simply
in the murdoch meeting. >> i understand that. >> but, yes, there's no -- i was looking at this as the leader of the labor party. lose four elections, as i say i went through that in 1992 election. now, by the way there's all sorts of reasons and mistakes that we made that meant that the election is out, i don't blame the media for us having lost. make that absolutely clear. but the power is significant. it's significant for the reason that i get. it would be significant anyway. that's why i have to -- i keep qualifying what i'm saying because i think if you've got a leadership or three to four million even if the newspapers are behaving in the most totally proper way, that's power. i don't know any other way of describing it. but, yes, if you looked at main
media blocks where murdoch was powerful, there were others that were very powerful as well, that was definitely a major factor you have to take into account when you are working out your strategy for winning and governing. as i say, was it more, you know, saying they decided to oppose in the 1997 election, my view is we would still have won. so, i think we've got to be careful of, i think we were sometimes guilty of ascribing to them a power that they ultimately don't really have. and actually have less today than i think back then. but sitting trying to put myself back 18 years and sitting in that seat and thinking how are we going to create the right circumstances which we get a fair hearing for our case, this
was important. >> we have a break to allow to recover. you're watching this week's testimony from former british prime minister tony blair examining the relationship between the british press and politicians. it's part of levson's inquiry into the british phone hacking and british media culture. you can see his remarks as well as recent testimony from former head of news of the world rebekah brooks and james and rupert murdoch anytime at cspan.org/videolibrary. and more from the uk this weekend. c-span will show queen elizabeth's address to parliament as part of her diamond jubilee commemoration. the ceremony for march included speakers by speeches from the house of lords and house of commons ahead of this weekend's 60th anniversary of queen elizabeth's ascension to the
throne. that's sunday night beginning at 9:00 eastern and pacific on our companion network c-span. spend the weekend in wichita, kansas, with book tv and american history tv. saturday at noon eastern. literary life with book tv on c-span2. robert weems on american presidents and black entrepreneurs from "business and black and white." and the founding of beachcraft. also browse the rare book collection at water mark west's rare books. and sunday at act p.m. eastern on american history tv, experience early plains life at the old cow town museum. the early days of flight at the kansas aviation museum. also two participants from the kansas civil rights movement in 1958 they sat down for service at the drugstore. once a month c-span's local content vehicles explore the history and literary life of cities across america. this weekend from wichita kansas. on c-span2 and 3.
now back to this week's testimony by former british prime minister tony blair to the levson inquiry into british phone hacking. >> mr. blair the other point on the abstract from mr. mullens' diary, the lines, did you say that to murdoch, not in so many words where you're intending to communicate to mr. mullen that obviously the clear and stark message which we see at the top of the page might not have been imparted to mr. murdoch more attenuated a subtle version might have been. do you accept that or not. >> i can't remember precisely what i would have said. frankly, it wasn't an occasion
as i recall where i was, out there to start banging the table. so i don't know whether it sums up what i said to him or the implication or not really. >> the end offense this encounter with mr. mullen you say my absolutely priority's to win. i know that sounds unpolice palled. i see it as my role in life. >> sounds like it. by the way, let me emphasize i don't think it's unprincipled to win. if you believe in what you're doing, you should. but, yes, you know, i don't -- this the pointless to do anything else, but i saw an ability to go out there and persuade. the murdoch group as i did with others as important. >> mr. neil as attributed something that you said to him.
page 15 of this bundle this is the introduction to the paper back edition of his book "full disclosure." he says about ten lines down, blair once said to me, quote, how we treat rupert murdoch's media interest when in power will depend how his papers treat the labor party in the run up to the election. might you have said that to him. >> i don't recall saying that, frankly pg i think the general tone of ma i might well have said to him, look, if rupert murdoch's going to wage war on us, we're going to stand up to him. you know, all the way through, for me as it were the issue of media interest other than the fact as at the very outset, i had taken a strategic decision i was not going to put this forefront of our program as a government, you know, i was as it were that was not my issue.
so, you know, i don't think it's a question of media interest, but had they -- as i'm saying to chris mullen back then and i don't again recall precisely the words i used. there's no doubt at all if what they've done is started to treat me as they had with neil i would have paugt back in a very tough way. >> can we move forward to hayman island, mr. blair. and mr. campbell's account in his diary. first of all page six of this bundle. the entry of the 16th of july, 1995. about halfway down. this is what mr. campbell attributes to what mr. keyton the then australian prime minister told you. on murdoch he told tv he's a big bad bastard and the only way to
deal with him is to think you can be a big bad bastard, too. is that what mr. keating said? >> it sound like what paul keating probably would have said. i don't recall the precise language, but i guess this is the -- i'm happy to accept it. >> you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done, but the only thing he cares about is his business and the only ladies and gentlemen he respects is strength. with that advice given by mr. keating. >> that was paul keating's view. and you know, he as he does express himself in robust terms. i actually came in time to have a differing view myself, which wasn't as simple as that. but, it's perfectly possible he said that. and as i said, if alice recorded that, at the time, i'm happy to
accept it. >> mr. keating's statement i suppose chimes with the implied thesis which are we clear do you expect or do you reject it? >> as far as we are concerned i can't answer to him, obviously. as far as we're concerned absolutely i do reject it. you know, there was no deal on issues to deal with the media with rupert murdoch or deep with anybody else either expressed or implied. to be fair you never saw such thing. you know, was it aware of the fact that he had certain interests and was i air ware of the fact that the media as a whole had a very strong interest in us not legislating on the media absolutely. but in terms of implied or expressed some deal about media interest absolutely not. i go on to say in my statement when he came to the specific issues in relation to the murdoch media group we more
often decided against them than in favor of them. >> the last comment of mr. keetings of page eight, we're still on the 16th of july. i think you've just been to a barbecue about ten lines down. you have to remember with rupert that it's all about rupert. rupert is number one, two, three and four as far as rupert is concerned. and the kids come next and everything else is a long way behind. is that what he might have said? >> he may well have said that again. i'm perfectly happy to accept it. the relationship with the australian labor party and rupert murdoch is a whole other volume as it were. i think paul's view of them was
very -- was very straight forward. at the same time, i didn't really quite buy the crudeness of that. but, he did -- it sounds to me like the type of thing he would have said. >> can we move forward in time to the 29th of january. we're now in 1997. >> just before you move, this was and perfectly understandable reasons a charm offensive. you wanted the murdoch press to support the labor party. understandable reasons. and does that not come out in something else that appears mr. campbell's diaries where you've got somebody to go through the speech from a murdoch angle thought and this is page six. there was enough in it for the
news corp. lot and enough for the anti-murdoch neuroal jiks. >> absolutely. i wouldn't have been going all the way around the world i remember i had to go up to one prime minister's questions and return for the next if it hadn't been a very deliberate and again very strategic decision that i was going to go and try to persuade them. i had a minimum and maximum objective. the minimum objective was to stop them tearing us to pieces. the maximum objective was if possible to open the way to support. actually the speech i gave, of course, you had to balance it very carefully. so the policy position side changed. in the speech i went out of my way and we were very careful about this to make sure we emphasized support for minimum wage, junior recognition. proeuropean position. increases in public investment all of which may not have been what they wanted to hear. on the other hand, what i felt perfectly comfortable in doing was saying and this i was
perfectly comfortable with saying, you know, this labor party is going to be a party of aspiration, not merely redistribution. it's going to be a party that's going to appeal to the emerging, you know, working class. it's going to be a party that is essentially about creating a democratic society and expanding opportunity. it's not going to go back to the old ways. but that was a message i was determined to give to the country. part of this for me with the murdoch media group was me as it were using them as a conduit to that vote. as i say, i don't think that, i would strongly defend and say you're perfectly entitled to do that. and they were to bring the sun and the news of the world to the point where at least they were prepared to give you a fair hearing was you know, you've got to think back to that time. that was revolutionary for the labor party to be in this
position. >> but it required you at least to have thought about if not calibrated what you knew mr. murdoch would like to hear. >> absolutely. you know, if you were going out to go persuade someone, indeed you can say this about the voters in general and the rest of the media group. but of course you were going to calibrate carefully. i mean, again, i think, you know, that's a sensible part of putting across your case provided you're not changing your case. if you take statutory recognition for trade unions. that was something they deeply disliked. but it was something i was committed to. so there's two ways of putting that. you can say, you know, tomorrow we should wage war on the trade unions and i'm determined to bring the union backs to their proper place of power. not very sensible to put it that way. or you can say it should be the basic human right of any individual to be a member of the
trade union. if there's sufficient support for union membership in the workplace for them to be recognized. that's a matter of basic individual rights. you could put this in a way that was about collective power or put it in a way that was about individual rights. my view is it's perfectly open to you the best way to put this case is it's about individual rights. i had already fought the whole thing in the labor party getting support. i have a certain amount of accumulated credibility on this issue. of course, you want to put your case across in the best way possible. >> that's no different. is this fair? would you say that is no different to any speech you might make to any group to think about precisely what they want to hear and large bits that fit with your philosophy into what they want. of what they want to hear into it. but also the other bits. >> yes. that's absolutely right.
and if i'm, the first politician to do that i would be surprised. i think it's just a part of the art of politics. but what is important i think to emphasize and that's why i draw attention to my statement to the guardian report for example in my speech the next day, i actually did have in all the things that we were committed to they wouldn't like. i was also because i was having to watch my other audience as well. >> the 29th of january, it was still in mr. campbell's diaries. 2/3 of the way down the page, he says tv was due to see murdoch on monday. instead it angered him that the meeting mattered. but it did. first of all, has mr. campbell set out what you apparently told
him. >> i think so. that was my view all the way through which is where i come to what i think is how i would define the unhealthy for the of this relationship. i felt that it really did matter and i still believe that, by the way. and that's again not simply a point with them they were probably the host powerful of the groups, but with all of them. and it mattered because the consequence of not getting it right was so severe, frankly. >> did it not rile you in another sense that maybe you felt that your policies had to be calibrated in some way to reflect the views of this very powerful institution.
>> no, not really that. when i told you in the very beginning i took the strategic decision to manage these people not confront them. let me make it clear, i'm not saying i feared them in the sense, obviously i was aware of their power. i'm not saying i feared them many the sense that had i believed that was the most important thing for the government to concentrate on, i would have done it. my issue's very simple about this. i believe that had you decided to confront everything else would have been pushed aside. so that was my -- it would have been in a huge battle with no guarantee of winning. it's taken frankly what has happened in order to have this debate and for me to be sitting here and for this inquiry to be taking place. so what i did in managing it, i was very careful. in articles we wrote for the sun in the '97 election, you stressed the bit of your
european policy that was going to appeal. but i didn't change the policy. some of the staff we didn't do things because of the murdoch media that's not correct. i was a proeuropean when i came in, and i left in the same vein. i did not change our positions on core policy views at all. on the other hand, managing these forces was a major part of what you had to do and was difficult. >> in your conversations with mr. murdoch about his time or perhaps later when you were in power, stst quite clear that the main subject matter was the main political issues of the day including the euro which was very much a concern to mr. murdoch. did you have concerns about regulation or the